M double U

2008 Brazil

The boyz return to Brazil …

(Twice is not enough…)

Once more the boyz went back to Brazil. When we left Frankfurt for our 10 hour flight it was raining, well, it was pouring down, so we could not have a better excuse to travel to Brazil. We had been very lucky on checking in as we were assigned seats in Premium economy class so we could stretch our legs, what a difference that made. 10 hours later, relaxed and fresh we arrived in Salvador. We were picked up by a driver and brought to our pousada. The room was perfect and after a shower we headed to the small but cozy pool. A short swim was just what we needed and totally refreshed we headed for Pelhourino, the historic center of Salvador which is on the Unesco world heritage list. Beautifully colored houses, even more beautifully colored people in bright clothing and what was that….??? Out of several streets there was a tremendous noise coming with upbeat rhythms of drums. There were several bands playing in the streets and each of them tried to make more noise than the others, what a feast, what a rhythm, it made Dutch carnaval look pale…

Needless to say our first impression of Salvador was a very positive one. We selected one of the many restaurants and not much later we were enjoying our fresh grilled seafood dish with lobster, shrimps, fish, octopus, what a start of a holiday.

The next morning we woke up early so we had to wait a while before we could get breakfast. The breakfast room was located what could have been the sacristy of a church. I do not know how many crucifixes and candles there were but it were a lot. It was a strange place but we knew beforehand that the pousada was owned by a priest and everything was decorated in baroque style, oh well, in one way it fitted very well as Salvador is covered with churches with an overdose of decoration, more about that later…

After breakfast we headed again to Pelhourino and took a different direction. It was immediately clear Salvador was built on a collection of steep hills which made it look very pretty but also a tiring experience. The views of the narrow cobbled streets and the colorful houses made it worth though. It seemed that there was a church on the top of each hill and they were predominantly on the skyline of old Salvador.

The newer area had some skyscrapers but we were not the least interested in that. We ended up at a small terrace close to one of Salvador´s main churches and enjoyed a cappuccino over there while we watched the world passing by, a very entertaining activity indeed. After a while we visited the San Francisco church which, from the outside, was beautifully decorated with carvings with big Indian influences. The inside was an overdose of gold decoration (That was what we were thinking at the time as we had not seen any other churches yet), several altars and many saints all over. The courtyard was paved with blue tiles, very beautiful indeed.

Heading back to one of the main squares in town we were stopped by a friendly lady in traditional dress who could not stop flirting with her ´macho men´ oh baby, oh baby, it was very funny indeed. The real reason was not to flirt with us of course but to get us in her restaurant, if the food was as good as her flirting skills… and it was. I had shrimps cooked in a traditional Bahian way with palm oil and coco milk. Yummie. Of course we could not resist a couple of caprihinia´s and as we’re having such a good time we remained the rest of the afternoon on the terrace, zipping caprihinia´s watching the world go by.

I do not know whether it was because of the last caprihinia´s or whether we were suffering from jetlag but we ended in bed quite early, fell asleep at 19.00 and did not wake up until 6 the morning after. Talking about A good night sleep….

Breakfast surrounded by crucifixes, we were ready for another stroll in the city. This time we headed straight for the most significant church in town and what a church was that… It did not look extremely impressive from the outside but the inside was a different story! Everything, and yes, I mean everything was covered in gold, unbelievable, it once again showed the wealth and power of the Roman Catholic Church. Ironically this church was dedicated to a saint who stood for a simple lifestyle, well; this could not be further away from that! I must say the both of us were extremely overwhelmed, and that was expressing it carefully.

The old city was connected to the lower part of the city by a huge elevator and once down we ended up at an art market. Great there was nothing for our taste that saved a lot of hand luggage once again. We strolled by the marina and slowly but surely arrived at an area of town we were not so keen of so we decided to head back to Pelhirinou. There we visited another museum and booked a schooner trip for the day after. Some more caprihinna´s and once again an early night…

After breakfast the next day (by now we started to realize there is more life in a mortuary than in our poussada, but what the heck, the room is clean) we were picked up by a car which brought us to the Marina. At 9.00 we boarded a schooner, together with some 30 other people and started our cruise through the bay of Salvador. Very quickly we found out that this was going to be a party cruise. A band started playing life music and I do not believe it was 10.00 already when the first caprihinia´s were served. Oh well, it is a holiday after all.

The first stop was at a small island with a beautiful beach (and the mandatory church on a hill) where we had a drink and some freshly grilled prawns.

After a nice swim we all headed back to the boat and continued to our next destination where we had lunch. Instead of taking a little rowing boat to the beach Paul and I decided to swim in the warm and clear water. Lunch was great and so was the demonstration of Caipoera, a dance by slaves using fighting techniques. Great athletic bodies, a body control and gymnastics we could only dream of doing ourselves, it was very impressive indeed. After an hour or so we swam back to the boat and continued our trip back to Salvador while we were enjoying a lovely sunset.

In the evening we went back to a restaurant where we had enjoyed some cappuccinos before and that turned out to be the surprise of the holiday. The chef introduced himself at the table and asked whether he was allowed to do a little tasting menu for us. Now, that was not asked to the wrong persons so we agreed to his proposal which turned to be an absolute fabulous choice. We were treated with a wonderful 5 course menu with some very special and unusual taste combinations. Haute cuisine in Salvador, the last thing we expected and what a treat it was. Wow! This was the finishing touch of our visit to Salvador.

You can already guess by now how we started the day, yes indeed, with breakfast and crucifixes. It was good to leave Salvador, as impressive as it was, the both of us were a bit (oh well, more than a bit) churched out and it was time for something completely different…  Salvador must be paradise for some (and don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed it thoroughly but enough is enough) but now it was time to go to our style of paradise….

We had booked the 9.00 crossing with a catamaran to Morro de Sao Paulo, a small island 2 hours from Salvador and we were very eager to see if our expectations would come true…. On arrival we were welcomed by Patricia who gave us an introduction on Morro de Sao Paulo and brought us to the resort we had booked. It was a fun ride with some kind of converted truck over sandy and bumpy roads to one of the most isolated beaches of the island, Praia de Encanto (enchanted beach). On Arrival we immediately were impressed by the resort which was well kept and breathed a friendly atmosphere. When we saw the beach we were sure we had made the right decision, kilometers long beach, empty, some mangroves and thousands of palms… Welcome to paradise! It was in one word amazing! What a place. Overwhelmed? Guess that is just an understatement… We spent the afternoon at the pool enjoying the sun and yes indeed, zipping some caprihinia´s. This was real life! In the evening we had a lovely dinner after which we went straight to bed. Even after a couple of days in Brazil we’re still in the habit of going to bed early and waking up early. Oh well, this way we make the most of the day.

The next day we had booked ourselves into another adventure, a tour around the island. We were picked up by a small speedboat at the beach and made our way to natural pools where we had a swim surrounded by many fish. Wonderful. After that we continued our trip to an even more isolated beach, our mouths dropped by anticipation when we arrived. Over there we had a small snack… 5 freshly grilled lobsters, all for the price of 6 Euro… Oh joy… A guide brought us to a nearby beach, which was a 30 minute walk, where we could swim, relax, have something to eat and… a caprihinia 😉

Time went by quickly and we had to leave again to our next destination, a small village at a neighboring island where we visited a convent which was under restoration. The funny thing was that between all the images and statues of saints we discovered a picture of Charly Chaplin.

Once back at Morro the Sao Paulo we strolled a bit through the village and the first three beaches an quickly made up our mind that this was far to busy for us so we rescheduled our transport to the resort and came back early in the evening. Another swim, another meal and yet again it was time to go to sleep. What a fantastic day we had, it was a day one can only dream of but our pictures are proving we have been there.

The morning after we had a bit of a sleep in; we did not wake up until 7.30….. Paul saw it was raining a bit so we decided to stay in bed a bit longer and have a late breakfast. The whole day was overcast, a good excuse to relax and do nothing at all. We wrote all the postcards, I listened to the new Marillion album, Paul read a book, we slept a bit in one of the many hammocks, and so the day passed by. Tranquil, relaxed, what else could one wish for. Still we hoped that the day after the sun would be shining again as we booked another adventurous tour.

Another lazy day, unfortunately it was still overcast and raining a bit so we decided not to become too active and cancelled our tour. By the end of the day both of us had finished another book, how relaxing can one get…  In the evening we were invited by one of the girls in the hotel to a very special party from the people who originate from Porto Alegra in the south of Brazil. So around 20.00 we were good to go and were brought back by the hotel’s bus to the village. Guess I have not told you about that yet, our hotel is a 30 minute drive over an unpaved sandy road with lots of holes and gaps. The hotel has three types of transport, an open truck with seats in the back, one truck with an enclosed cabin and this night we had the luxury version; a real bus. The whole drive was an adventure by itself, great fun!! After we arrived in the village we strolled to the place where the party was held, a small restaurant. Lots of people were in traditional dresses, there was live music, lots of caprihinia´s and very good food! Big lumps of meat were grilled above an open fire and taste divine once served. It was a great atmosphere, we met an Australian English teacher who lives in Morro de Sao Paulo and some other locals, unfortunately our lack of Portuguese made conversation difficult but a smile is sometimes enough to create a good atmosphere. It turned out to be our latest night in Brazil (so far) and we did not return into the hotel until 01.30, it had been a very special evening…

When we woke up the next day and looked outside we immediately had a great smile on our face again, the sun was back. 27 degrees, not bad for a Brazilian ´winter´ wish our summers were like this. …  We spent most of the day at the beach, made a small walk and…  relaxed even more. At 15.30 it was time to say goodbye to the staff and we were absolutely amazed that several of them were very emotional and had tears in their eyes because we’re leaving. It was a very nice goodbye, we only had been there for 4 days and communication was difficult at times so we had not expected a farewell like this… The bus brought us to the airstrip (which we ironically called Morro de Sao Paulo international) which consisted of a wooden hut, an airstrip and… as we found out a bit later a broken plane…

Checking in was a matter of turning up, tickets were not required as we were expected so everything went smooth until the pilot had trouble starting one of the engines of our propeller plane. Oh joy, some people tried to fix the engine fumbling around with a screwdriver but that did not the trick so the pilot made a phone call and another plane was sent down from Salvador. Our luggage was unloaded, and believe it or not, both of us were enjoying the hilarious situation. I borrowed a bike from one of the locals and killed the time by driving up and down the airstrip. It was a surreal situation, one which is difficult to explain when you’re not there. Half an hour later the replacement plane arrived and once luggage was packed we could take of for our 20 minute flight to Salvador, leaving a last breathtaking glimpse of the stunning beaches of Morro de Sao Paulo. By now we had already made our mind up to return to this paradise on earth…

On arrival in Salvador a driver already waited and brought us to Praia do Forte, our next destination. This was something totally different, a small holiday village for the ´happy few´ Brazilians. The hotel was perfect, it was located in an enclosed, protected area of town, not strange as the room price was a month’s salary for the average Brazilian. It was worth it though, a fantastic room overlooking the pool, a beach to die for (but Brazil has plenty of those) so we were very happy, finally a night in an almost full size double bed….

In the evening we headed to ´downtown’ Praia de forte which consisted of numerous shops and restaurants. We strolled a bit around and ended up in an Italian restaurant where we had a pizza with a thin crust Italians could be proud of. Fantastic!

The next morning we spent at the pool, working very hard at our tans, swimming a bit and doing ehh… absolutely nothing. Round midday we returned to the center, had a lovely meal of grilled fish which was only caught hours before and made a beach walk. There we bumped into a young couple from Liechtenstein who we had met before at Morro the Sao Paulo. We decided to have dinner with the four of us and that turned out to be another fantastic and very late evening. By chance we had selected the place which remained open late, very late and since we were having such a good time chatting about the world and everything else we did not realize it was 2 o´clock already by the time we asked for the bill.  We headed back to the hotel but had to climb the fence which protected the ‘exlusive´area where we stayed as that was closed already. Another fence had to be climbed to enter the hotel but finally we made it to our room.

Not surprisingly we had a bit of a sleep in this morning and after breakfast we decided to spent some more time at the pool, relax, listen to some music (all books are finished by now) and, you can already guess it, do nothing but working very hard on our tans. By now we could easily act as one of the locals as both Paul and me were darker than ever before and there were still three full days to go…. That evening we went out again with Norman and Leonie and it was another late evening of fun.

The day after we left for our last destination; three more days before it was time to come home and return to work. A taxi brought us to ??, halfway between Praia de Forte and Salvador. It turned out to be a very quiet and desolate village, it was almost spooky. Our resort was in the middle of nowhere and our taxi driver had some issues finding it. Nevertheless we made it.

The resort was nothing like the place we stayed before. It was very quiet with a number of bungalows shattered around a small but cozy pool. The restaurant was next to it so everything was within reach. We made a stroll over the beach but with the village being so empty we had difficulties to find a proper restaurant. Fortunately it was no problem to find a little pub at the beach which served caprihinia´s. We watched children playing in the water. Did some swimming ourselves and for the rest…. Nothing.

As there was not a lot to be done in the area we concentrated on improving our tans. In spite of doing nothing at all time went by far too quickly. Before we realized it we were brought to Salvador da Bahia International airport where we boarded the plane for the 10 hour long flight to Frankfurt. We were not as lucky as on our way up there and got allocated seats in normal ‘cattle class’. As the holiday had been so brilliant and both of us were mucho tranquilo, we could not even be bothered.

For those of you who are a bit disappointed by the lack of adventures this holiday I can only say that we enjoyed every minute of it. At has been a very relaxing and ´tranquilo´ holiday for the both of us and that was exactly what we wanted. I cannot remember a lazier holiday since years but if you could have seen the smiles on both our faces you will realize it was the right thing to do.

I can easily state that this was the best Brazilian experience so far (in spite of two very good trips in 2004) and if Condor will have those special offers again we will be one of the first to book…  It is amazing what a week and a half of pure relaxation can do to one.

Note: the pictures on this page are unedited RAW material, Due to a system crash I lost all edited work on this trip. Time permitting I will rework those pictures and present them in the brilliance they deserve, for right now I decided to temporary publish the unedited material.